The One Page Poetry Circle met on May 10th to discuss Poetry and Success and Failure.

Monopoly_JailCardsAbigail opened our discussion with her thoughts that success and failure were inherently linked, and that within each there were aspects of the other. For something to fail there must first be an attempt, which is a show of success, and often a success can feel like a failure. Later AnnaLee pointed out that many poems that begin by speaking of success, end up on a note of failure and vice versa.

Abigail read J. K. Stephen’s “After the Golden Wedding (Three Soliloquies)” a sardonic look at a marriage that appears perfect from the outside; however, the husband is oblivious to the feelings of his wife who thinks, “when beneath the turf you’re sleeping,/And I’m sitting here in black,/Engaged as they’ll suppose, in weeping,/I shall not wish to have you back.”

Roger read “Success and Failure” by the People’s Poet, Edgar Albert Guest, in which the narrator believes that an individual makes his own fate as failure is not undeserved and success is not just luck, “Most men, themselves, have shaped the things/they are.”

Hazel read two short poems by Leigh Hunt, “Rondeau” and “Abou Ben Adhem.” In both poems a man’s state of mind is successfully changed by an event. Here is “Rondeau” in its entirety:

Jenny kissed me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in;
Time, you thief, who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in:
Say I’m weary, say I’m sad,
Say that health and wealth have missed me,
Say I’m growing old, but add,
Jenny kissed me.

Gail read Richard Foerster’s “The Failure of Similes” on the impossibility of words and images to describe reality, “ In one image of the camps, the snow sifts down/like lime … or should it be the other way around?”

Delta read Noel Duffy’s “On Light & Carbon,” on the success of received wisdom versus scientific facts, “‘Where did it come from,/the world?’ I asked./‘It was born of God’s/Mercy and Love,’ the priest said./I trusted him.”

Rollene read “Child on Top of a Greenhouse” by Theodore Roethke, which describes the perception of a child in a precarious situation, “A line of elms plunging and tossing like horses,/And everyone, everyone pointing up and shouting!”

Phil also read two poems: Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ozymandias” and Horace Smith’s “Ozymandias.” The poems were created in a contest between the two men as to who could write a better poem on a statue with the inscription, “King of Kings Ozymandias am I. If any want to know how great I am and where I lie, let him outdo me in my work.” Both poems show Ozymandias’ belief in his own greatness and a later perspective on his success.

Karen read Patrick Kavanagh’s “In Memory of My Mother,” in which the narrator remembers the golden moments of contact with his mother, “I do not think of you lying in the wet clay/Of a Monaghan graveyard, I see/You walking down a lane among the poplars.”

AnnaLee closed the circle with “Failing and Flying” by Jack Gilbert which concludes with the triumph of failure, “I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,/but just coming to the end of his triumph.”

Larry uploaded two poems to our blog, “The Writer’s Wife” by Lucien Stryk and “Success is counted sweetest” by Emily Dickinson.

Have a wonderful summer and we will see you in the fall. And remember to blog with us here at Don’t be shy.

Abigail Burnham Bloom and
AnnaLee Wilson

The One Page Poetry Circle is sponsored by the New York Public Library and is open to all. St. Agnes Branch Library is handicap accessible.